Sunday, October 30, 2016

Transfers and Families

Transfer week is upon us! This is our third group of missionaries who have come to the mission while we have been here in Uganda. The first time there were 2 missionaries, the second time there were three, but this time we had a total of 12 missionaries come to us from the MTC. We are so excited to have them here.

When the missionaries come to the Uganda Kampala Mission, they come from 3 different Missionary Training Centers. Last transfer we had only 3 missionaries come, but they each came from a different MTC. If they come from Johannesburg, their flight comes to Entebbe Airport (the airport in Uganda) at about 2:30 on Tuesday afternoon. If they come from Provo, their flight comes in at 10:30 PM on Tuesday night. And if they come from Ghana MTC, it arrives at 8:15 AM on Wednesday morning. It takes some juggling to get them all picked up, trained, and sent to their new areas in an efficient way. Last year at about this time there was a group of over 20 missionaries who all came. I have no idea how President and Sister Chatfield did it! It must have been crazy for them... This transfer, with 12 missionaries coming in definitely gave me something to write about!! Haha.

There were 9 missionaries coming on Tuesday afternoon from Johannesburg. We decided that because there weren't any missionaries coming in from Provo, that we would go straight to the mission home and train these missionaries Tuesday evening. I think we were guided by the Lord in this decision.  When we got to the airport, we saw that the plane landed 20 minutes early! That made it nice because it takes a while for them all to get through immigration, and we didn't have to wait long for them at all. It was SO FUN seeing all these elders and sisters with their name tags, dressed up so nice. I was so happy to see them all! We snapped a few pictures and then loaded up into 3 vehicles!

We took them back to the mission home, had lunch, training, and introduced them to their trainers. It was a very exciting day. And I felt like it went very smoothly.

On Wednesday morning, we left at 6:30 AM to go to the airport and pick up our 3 missionaries from the Ghana MTC on the 8:15 AM flight. We also had one elder on the flight returning home from his mission to his home in Uganda, who would be released, so four missionaries were expected. When we arrived at the airport, it said that the flight had been delayed 40 minutes... so we hurried up and waited. Haha. When the flight arrived, our missionary who was returning from his mission came out first and said that he had left a piece of luggage in Ghana. We told him to go back inside and file a claim right away so they could send his bag to Uganda. Then another missionary came out and said that the sister missionary who left the MTC with them in Ghana got off the plane in Kenya for the layover, and they would not let her back on the flight. The elders tried all they could to help her figure out the situation, but eventually were told that if they did not board the flight now, the airplane would leave without them. So they decided to leave the sister missionary in Kenya and catch their flight. I was so concerned for this sister missionary! Meanwhile, missionary number 4 came out and said that the wheels on his luggage had been broken and he had stayed inside to file a claim. Missionary number 1 was still filing his own claim, and it had now been an hour since they had arrived.

While all of this excitement was going on in the airport, President Collings received a call from one of his zone leaders who said he had been pulled over while driving and the police officer said he would have to spend the night in jail... The missionary was driving on a road that is known for how dangerous it is, and the police had decided that every person they caught in a traffic violation on that road would have to spend the night in jail, to make a statement. They are tired of reckless driving and all of the accidents and deaths on that stretch of road. Our missionary said that he was one of 5 vehicles in a row that had been pulled over, and that he had not violated any laws. The police would not listen to them, and we understand their concern, and desire to wake up drivers, but absolutely did not want to have one of our missionaries spending the night in jail.

Meanwhile back at the airport, elder number 1 came out after we thought he was done filing his claim and asked for an address to the mission office, where they could send the luggage when it was found. He took the address back in to the claim desk, and we waited another hour. It turned out that he went back to the desk to give them the address, and stood there, and nobody would serve him... so he continued to stand there. Pretty soon, another passenger went to the claim desk, so somebody came up and started serving the new passenger, so he just waited... seriously we waited for this poor elder's claim for at LEAST two hours. I'm sure he was so tired after the long flight he had already been on. I felt so bad for him.

We were able to contact the  LDS Church Office in Nairobi, Kenya, and they  sent someone to the airport to find this sister missionary. They picked her up and took her back to the LDS church offices in Nairobi, and we worked with them to get her another plane ticket to Entebbe. We were so happy to hear that she was safe, and with people who would help take care of her.

Elder number one finally came out and we were ready to drive to the mission home. We expected to be there at about 11:00AM for training, but after all the excitement of the morning,  ended up arriving at 1:00PM. Thankfully the senior sisters had made a lunch, and we were able to release our elder who returned home, eat lunch,  and quickly train the new elders  by 3:00PM which was when their trainers were scheduled to meet them.

Back to the situation at the police office... One of our employees from the office went down to the police office, and spoke with them about the situation.  They  told us that at they would make a decision at  6:00PM.

We were able to get our sister missionary a ticket from Nairobi, and she would be arriving at the airport at 9:00PM. We felt like we really needed to be there to pick her up after the long, stressful day that she must have had, so we drove to the airport again. On our way, we received another phone call that another one of our zone leaders in a completely different part of Uganda, had been pulled over and that the police officer wanted to send him to jail for the night. Thankfully, the missionary was humble and the officer gave them a ticket, and a warning that next time they would go to jail, and he let them go, a tender mercy. The other officer, at 6:00PM impounded the vehicle for the night, but allowed the missionary to go with a guarantee that he would be back the next morning to pay a fine and get his vehicle back, another tender mercy.

We arrived at the airport and the flight was delayed 40 minutes. So we waited, then it was delayed another half hour. She finally made it by about 10:30 PM. We were all so happy to see each other! We brought her back to Kampala, and she met her companion and went to bed after a VERY long day. We are not sure what exactly happened, or why she was not allowed on the flight to Entebbe, but we were just relieved to have her here.

When I went to bed Wednesday night... actually it would have been Thursday morning by the time I actually went to bed, I was so relieved to have all my missionaries where they were supposed to be. Not stranded at an airport, not sleeping in a jail cell... just here on their mission. It was a tender mercy from the Lord. I've started to really see the tender mercies poured out on our mission lately. As is says in  Helaman 5:12, the devil is pouring out his mighty winds, yea his shafts in the whirlwind, trying to distract us from what is most important, but we believe it's because there are so many people prepared for this gospel, and there are so many miracles being poured out upon this mission, we are bound to have a few "mighty storm"  days .

One fun Miracle that just happened this week: A man came to church and approached one of our missionaries. He asked him if he could learn more about the church. As the missionary tried to find out more about this man, he told this story. He attends church at a large congregation in Kampala. He said that the pastor was speaking to them one day and held up a copy of the Book of Mormon. He said, "This book is true! I invite you to find the source of this book!" This man looked up the Book of Mormon online, and was able to find the address to our church. He followed the advice of his pastor and is now taking the discussions. President Collings is looking for this pastor, it sounds like he may be ready to learn more about the Gospel too.

Thursday of transfer week is always difficult for me. That is the day we have our farewell dinner and departing testimony meeting with our missionaries who are returning home. All of our missionaries going home are from Africa this transfer, including one of the Assistants to the President. They are such strong missionaries, and will be such great leaders of the church in their countries. What a blessing to have served with them while on their missions! As we spoke with them, I read from the Hymn Book, the hymn, "Press Forward Saints" It just said everything I wanted to say to them. It speaks of what is most important as they return home. Then I talked about the three things I felt were most important as they start their lives. Those  things were Jesus Christ, temples, and family. I encouraged them to be sealed in the temple, and raise up their family in the gospel of Jesus Christ. President Collings spoke about how, although most of them do not live near the temple, they can have a temple experience in their homes, by making it a "house of Prayer", and always having the Holy Ghost with them. He talked about how they should always think about the promises and covenants they have made in the temple, and take care of the simple things like family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening. He talked about how those things have lifted our family through the years. It was truly a blessing to be able to speak with them. I seem to cry a lot as I send my missionaries home. I'm not good at saying goodbye, especially to our African elders and sisters. It may be quite some time before I see them again. The goodbyes feel a lot more final than with our American missionaries. I truly love them!

Friday was an exciting day. A few weeks ago, there was a group of Ugandans who went to the United States, and were invited to visit several cities throughout the United States. They were hosted by the LDS church at their stop in Salt Lake City, and ended up having a wonderful experience learning about the humanitarian efforts, and other programs the church offers. When they came back to Uganda, we wanted to help them see that this church that they were introduced to in Salt Lake City is also thriving in their own community. We had such an amazing visit with them. There was one woman who was an attorney, and a bishop of a church, and a pastor of another church. We invited them to the Stake Center where we introduced ourselves to each other. There was myself and President Collings, along with the Stake President of the Kampala Stake, and others who helped us put this together. We visited for a while and got to know each other, then we took them on a tour of the Stake Center. We told them about each of the different programs offered in the church as we took them to each of the rooms. Institute Class, Relief Society, Primary, the youth programs, and of course our Sacrament Meeting. Then we went to lunch together. It was very nice because the lady had a lot of questions for President Okot, and the Bishop and Pastor had a lot of questions for President Collings. By the end of the lunch, we had built some wonderful friendships, and the Pastor asked President Collings if he would come and speak to his congregation about what our church believes. He said he would be very happy to do that.

That experience alone would make the day perfect, but we were also invited to speak at a convention about the importance of marriage and families. We had been approached earlier about this opportunity and were happy to oblige. We decided that if we were going to speak about families, it would be nice to have some of our missionaries sing, "Families can be Together Forever".  They did a great job!! We were told there would be about a thousand people there. I think it ended up being closer to four or five hundred, but I think we were able to touch people through song.  Then President Collings and I spoke together. We read portions of "The Family Proclamation", and talked about how following the teachings of our modern day prophets and apostles had blessed us as a family.  We were able to tell them to watch for our elders and sisters and that they would be happy to teach them more about our church if they wanted. It was an experience we won't forget!

Saturday morning we flew to Ethiopia. We had a special meeting with the Branch and District Presidencies in Addis, and were so happy to meet with them. We have given a challenge to our mission branches, and I would love to challenge anyone reading this blog to do the same thing. If you start reading the Book of Mormon on November 1st, and read 10 pages a day, you will finish the entire Book of Mormon by Christmas. What a wonderful gift to give yourself! I also looked up the promises that have been given to us by our prophets if we read the Book of Mormon. I tried to condense them down to only 18.

1.  There will come into your hearts an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord.
2.  There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to his commandments.
3.  There will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.
4. You will have greater discernment, insight, conviction, and spirit than those who do not.
5. It will bring you 'nearer to God'.
6.  A power will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book.
7.  Greater power to resist temptation.
8.  Power to avoid deception.
9.  Power to stay on the strait and narrow path.
10.  You will find life in greater and greater abundance.
11. The spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein.
12.  The spirit of reverence will increase.
13.  Mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow.
14.  The spirit of contention will depart.
15.  Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom.
16.  Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents.
17.  Righteousness will increase.
18.  Faith, hope, and charity--the pure love of Christ--will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.

We are going to do this, and have encouraged all of our missionaries, and Branches to do the same thing. It will obviously be a wonderful blessing! I would love to hear who will be joining us!

One special experience we had in Ethiopia today. When we went there for District Conference several weeks ago, President Collings met with a man and woman who had been separated. He talked to them about forgiveness and the love that the Savior has for everyone. Today as we attended a branch, this man and woman showed up for the meeting. They were so happy to see President Collings. They told him that they were together as husband and wife again, and were attending church regularly now. It was such a blessing to see love and forgiveness work in their lives. We can't believe the miracles we see every week. We are truly blessed!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing!! We love hearing of the wonderful miracles the Lord performs among His people. The people of Africa are so blessed to be participants in those miracles. We love you and pray for you always!! XOXO

  2. It was so wonderful to read your message today. How lucky and blessed you are to be serving in such an amazing place. I'm beyond grateful that my son is a missionary serving there right now and know without a doubt that he will be forever changed because of this experience!

  3. The tender mercies you share with us are sometimes overlooked in my life. Thank you for sharing these little miracles. Reading your missionary experiences make me want to serve our heavenly father in all ways that I can. You and President Collings are true servants of our father in heaven. I will take the book of Mormon challenge and commit myself to reading everyday No matter what obstacles Satan puts in muy way. Love you both. Neva